Category Archives: General

Details (and Document) Regarding EU Mediterranean States Opposition to Proposed Frontex Sea Borders Regulation

The document from the six states which oppose the Search and Rescue and Disembarkation provisions of the proposed Frontex Sea Borders Regulation is available via Statewatch.  (h/t to Neil Falzon and Aditus for pointing this out).  The document, a Note to the Working Party on Frontiers/Mixed Committee, criticises the proposed Regulation stating that the six states, Greece, Spain, France, Italy, Cyprus and Malta, “consider it essential to ensure that the international framework on search and rescue and disembarkation is not in any way undermined; that no confusion or diverging rules are adopted when considering the sensitive nature of these operations.”

It is difficult to see how the disembarkation provisions in the proposed Regulation “confuse” or “diverge” from the international framework.  The document implies that the six states are in agreement as to what the international framework requires in regard to disembarkation when in practice this is not the case.  It was only two months ago that Italy and Malta engaged in their most recent public disagreement on disembarkation.  Recall the several day stand-off regarding the 102 migrants rescued by the oil tanker Salamis.   The Salamis was given conflicting orders to sail to Libya, Malta, and Italy before Italy finally allowed the migrants to be disembarked.  The diverging opinions of Italy and Malta were again raised this week when Malta’s opposition leader criticised the Malta government for deciding to bring 150 migrants rescued from the sea two weeks ago after their boat capsized.  The opposition’s point was that rescued migrants should have been taken to the port closest to the point of rescue, i.e. Lampedusa not Malta.  While the disembarkation provisions in the proposed Regulation are not perfect, it is disingenuous to argue that they diverge from the international framework and that further clarification is not necessary.

The document calls for disembarkations in Frontex operations to be conducted “in accordance with international law and relevant bilateral agreements which comply with international law.”  The proposed language regarding bilateral agreements seems designed to address (and protect) on-going Spanish and Frontex interdiction activities in West Africa which now occur largely within the territorial waters of West African states with intercepted or rescued migrants being disembarked in West Africa.

The six states propose new and simplified language for the Search and Rescue and Disembarkation provisions in Arts. 9 and 10 of the proposed Regulation:

“Article 9:

During a sea operation, Member States shall instruct their participating units shall to comply with the obligation to render assistance to any ship or person in distress at sea, in accordance with applicable provisions of international Conventions governing search and rescue and fundamental rights. They shall do so regardless of the nationality or status of such a person or the circumstances in which that person is found.

Article 10:

For the purposes of sea operations coordinated by the Agency, Tthe modalities for the disembarkation of the persons intercepted or rescued in a sea operation shall be set out in the operational plan, and shall be in accordance with international law and relevant bilateral agreements which comply with international law.”

Click here for the Note to the Working Party on Frontiers/Mixed Committee

Click here for the proposed Frontex Sea Borders Regulation.

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Frontex FRAN Report for Q1 2013

In July of this year, Frontex released its first quarter (January – March) 2013 report. As in past quarters, the 70-page report provided in-depth information about irregular migration patterns at the EU external borders. The report is based on data provided by 30 Member State border-control authorities, and presents results of statistical analysis of quarterly variations in eight irregular migration indicators and one asylum  indicator (here is a link to our summary of the 2012 fourth quarter report).

In Q1 2013 all indicators of irregular migration were reduced in comparison with the final quarter of 2012. In most instances these declines were consistent with past documentation of seasonal variation; typically the first few months of each year are associated with reduced pressure at the border compared to other times of the year. Here are some highlights from the report focusing on the sea borders:

  • The Greek operation Aspida (see the 2012 Q4 summary for details) has resulted in a dramatic reduction of irregular migration across the Greek-Turkish border. As a result, one of the three alternative routes increasingly utilized is: migrants leaving the west coast of Turkey to illegally cross the Eastern Aegean Sea towards the Greek Islands. This border section ranked second at the EU level in terms of detections. Syrians and Afghans were both detected at similar frequencies of around 500 each over the three-month period.
  • The JO Poseidon Sea 2012 was also active during the reporting period in order to tackle the flow of irregular migrants penetrating the external EU sea borders in the Eastern Mediterranean mainly from Turkey and, to a lesser extent, from Egypt.
  • Syrians, were increasingly detected at the Greek sea border with Turkey (Eastern Aegean Sea) and the Bulgarian land border with Turkey.

  • There were fewer detections of illegal border-crossing than ever before, with just 9 717 detections. The drop was limited mostly to sea borders.The JO Poseidon Land 2012 was active during Q1 2013.
    Screen Shot 2013-10-12 at 12.31.12 PM
    Here are excerpts from the Report focusing on the sea borders:
    [***]
    4.2 Routes
    • In the Eastern Mediterranean, detections tend to be characterised by Asian and some North African migrants illegally crossing the border from Turkey into Greece. In the second half of 2012 detections were much reduced following increased operational activity at the Greek land border with Turkey, where most detections were previously reported (see Section 4.1.1.).
    • On the main Central Mediterranean route, which includes the Italian Pelagic Islands (Linosa, Lampione and Lampedusa) and Malta, most detections tend to be of migrants arriving on boats from North Africa. During the previous quarter there were fewer detections of North African nationalities such as Tunisians and Egyptians but there was a surge of migrants from sub-Saharan countries such as Eritrea, the Gambia and Mali, all of which were detected in much higher numbers during the last there months of 2012 compared with Q3 2012. In the current reporting period, the number of detected Somalis decreased, resulting in the top three nationalities – Somalis, Gambians and Egyptians– being detected at similarly low levels of around 200–250 each over the three-month period (Fig. 5).Screen Shot 2013-10-12 at 1.57.51 PM

    [***]

    4.2.1 Eastern Mediterranean Route
    • In Q1 2013 there were 2 734 detections of il- legal border-crossing on the Eastern Mediterranean route, which was a decrease of 66% compared to the same period in 2012 but nevertheless still constituting nearly 30% of all detections at the EU level. In effect, this route remained the major entry point to the Schengen area.

      With nearly 1 000 detections in Q1 2013, Syrians were by far the most detected nationality on this route. More than half of these detections were in the Eastern Aegean Sea region, with significant numbers also at the Bulgarian land border with Turkey.

      [***]

      1. East Aegean Sea

        This border section ranked second at the EU level in Q1 2013. The most frequently detected migrants were Syrians and Afghans, followed Sri Lankans, whose number has recently increased.

        The JO Poseidon Sea 2012 was operational throughout the reporting period, focusing on tackling the flow of irregular migrants penetrating the external EU sea borders in the Eastern Mediterranean mainly from Turkey and, to a lesser extent, from Egypt.

        Syrians have been the most commonly detected migrants during the operation so far in 2013. Most were men travelling alone but here were some family units, and all were heading for Sweden or Germany to claim asylum. Once they entered Turkey, those intending to enter the EU travelled to Istanbul in order to make contact with facilitation networks. They stayed in Istanbul for between 1–12 weeks before being taken by van to the west coast of Turkey to depart towards the Greek eastern Aegean Islands.

        Afghans were also detected in this region. Most were previously resident in Iran and had decided to travel to the EU due to deteriorating employment conditions. The Afghan community in Iran can easily find criminal networks that can facilitate them to Turkey and then to Greece. Once in Turkey, the Afghan migrants were transported by public transport to Istanbul and from there mainly by private transportation directly to departure area on the western coast of Turkey, where they boarded rubber boats destined for the Greek eastern Aegean Islands.

    [***]
    4.2.2 Central Mediterranean Route
    • Since early 2011 migrants from Tunisia have been among the most commonly detected migrants arriving in the Central Mediterranean region but during the first three months of 2013 only 75 Tunisians were detected. In fact nearly all of the top 10 nationalities in Q1 2013 were detected in much lower numbers than during the final quarter of 2012.

      Migrants from Somalia ranked top in the region but were detected at their lowest level for over a year.

      [***]

      A total of 233 migrants from the Gambia were detected in the Central Mediterranean during Q1 2013 which is the highest ever level for this nationality resulting in them ranking second in this region, followed by 216 Egyptians.

      The JO Hermes 2012 was operational just for the first month of the reporting period. The operation was established to support the Italian authorities in tackling maritime illegal migration on the coasts of Sicily, Pantelleria and the Pelagic Islands (Lampedusa, Linosa, Lampione).

      In January 2013, there was only one incident reported under JO Hermes whereby a total of 35 irregular migrants were detected, 32 of which were Syrian and three were Egyptian. [***] The disembarkation point was near Syracuse but this time the interception took place inland, implying that the facilitators (and probably some migrants) evaded detection.

      The absence of boats from Tunisia and Libya may be due to the bad weather conditions throughout the Mediterranean area.

      Although FRAN data suggest that detections of migrants from Syria were low in this region during the first three months of 2013 (85), there were some reports of boats arriving directly from Syria.

    [***]
    4.2.3 Western Mediterranean Route
    • In Q1 2013 there were only around 1 000 detections of illegal border-crossing in the Western Mediterranean region, which consists of several areas of the southern Spanish coast as well as the land borders of Ceuta and Melilla, where three-quarters of all detections were reported. At the end of 2012 we reported vastly increased detections of migrants from Chad, Cameroon, Mali and Guinea arriving in the region of Cadiz but this did not continue into the first few months of 2013.

      Analysing the nationalities detected on this route is problematic as half were reported by the Spanish authorities as being of unknown nationality. However, open sources suggest that there have been increased reports of African migrants storming the border fence in Melilla.

    [***]
    4.2.4 Western African Route
    • In the first quarter of 2013, there were just a few individual detections of illegal border-crossing in this region, which is the same level as during the same period in 2012. During the previous quarter there were 30 or so detections of both Gambians and Moroccans but neither of these nationalities were apparent in the data exchanged for the first three months of 2013. Hence irregular migration pressure on the Western African route in much reduced.

      ————

      Click here for a copy of the report.

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Frontex FRAN Report for Q4 2012

This summary is a follow-up to our previous post, which discussed the Frontex FRAN third quarter report for 2012. In May of this year, Frontex released its report for the fourth quarter (October – December) of 2012. (Frontex has since released its Report for Q1 2013; we will post a summary of this recent Report shortly.) During the fourth quarter 2012 several FRAN indicators varied radically compared with other reporting periods. First, there were only 13 613 detections of illegal border-crossing at the EU level- the lowest ever recorded figure for any quarter since data collection began in 2008. And for the first time since 2010, there were more detections at the sea borders (59%) , primarily in the Central Mediterranean, than at the land borders.  In contrast to the reduction in overall detections of illegal border-crossing, both clandestine entries and asylum applications reached their highest levels by far, with Syrians ranking first among nationalities. Notably, Syrians submitted more asylum claims than any other nationality in this single quarter since data collection began.

Here are some highlights from the Report focusing on the sea borders:

  • There were 13 613 detections of illegal border-crossing at the EU level, which is the lowest ever recorded figure since data collection began in early 2008.
  • For the first time since 2010 there were more detections of illegal border-crossing at the external sea border (59%) than at the land border, which reflects the increasing importance of the Central Mediterranean route, and increased detections in the Aegean Sea in response to Greek operational activity at the land border with Turkey.
  • The [five] border sections reporting the most detections in Q4 2012 were:
  1. the Italian Pelagic Islands (Lampedusa), where there were increased arrivals of Eritreans and Somalis;
  2. the Greek Aegean Sea, to where Afghans and Syrians were increasingly displaced from the Greek land border with Turkey;
  3. the Greek land border with Albania with a significant trend of Albanian circular migrants, now ranking second at the EU level;
  4. the Spanish land border with Morocco, where there was a steady trend of unknown nationalities (probably sub-Saharans)and Algerians;
  5. the Bulgarian land border with Turkey, to where Palestinians and Syrians were increasingly displaced from the Greek land border with Turkey.
  • More detections were reported by Italy than any other Member State, and more were reported from the Italian Pelagic Islands than any other border section. Somalis continued to arrive in Lampedusa in increasing numbers, but this development was overshadowed by a massive increase in the number of Eritreans arriving in Lampedusa and Malta from October onwards.
  • In Q4 2012 there was an overall decline in the number of migrants arriving in the [Central Mediterranean] region mostly due to fewer North African nationalities such as Tunisians and Egyptians. However, there was a surge of migrants from sub-Saharan countries such as Eritrea, the Gambia and Mali, all of which were detected in much higher numbers than during the previous quarter – hence opposing seasonal declines expected at this time of year and observed for many other nationalities.
  • In accordance with the ‘Processo Verbale’ of 5 April 2011 (an agreement between Italy and Tunisia on cooperation in the field of migration policy) in November and December 2012, Tunisian nationals were returned to Tunis or were recovered by the Tunisian authorities in international waters.
  • [In the Central Mediterranean,] [i]n contrast to decreased detections of migrants from North Africa, there were significant increases compared to the previous quarter, in detections of migrants from several sub-Saharan countries such as Eritrea (+200%), the Gambia (+90%) and Mali (+350%), as well as a steady and significant flow of migrants from Somalia, now ranked second in the region behind Eritreans.
  • [T]he situation of the migration management by the Libyan authorities remains critical, both on land and at sea.
  • There are still reports about extreme violence against black African nationals in Libya. Most of the migrants reported to have been beaten by Libyan police after being arrested and also by members of the facilitation networks.
  • In Q4 2012 there were nearly 1 900 detections of illegal border-crossing in the Western Mediterranean region, which consists of several areas of the southern Spanish coast as well as the land borders of Ceuta and Melilla, where almost exactly half of all detections were reported. Going into the final quarter of the year there were vastly increased detections of migrants from Chad, Cameroon, Mali and Guinea arriving in the region of Cadiz.
  • Asylum applications were at by far their highest level since data collection began in early 2008, with Syrians ranking first among nationalities, followed by Afghans.

Here are excerpts from the Report focusing on the sea borders:

4.1 Detections of Illegal Border-crossing

“Overall in Q4 2012 there were 13 613 detections of illegal border-crossing at the EU level, which was the lowest figure since data collection began in early 2008. The low number of detections compared to other quarters was due to vastly increased operational activity at the Greek land border with Turkey, where in recent years the majority of migrants were detected (operation Aspida, see next section). Reduced detections were also in part due to the overlapping effects of the end of the Arab Spring in its initial countries (Egypt, Libya, Tunisia) and far fewer detections of Albanian circular migrants detected illegally crossing the land border into Greece.

For the first time since 2010 there were more detections of illegal border-crossing at the external sea border (59%) than at the land border, which reflects the increasing importance of the Central Mediterranean route, and increased detections in the Aegean Sea in response to Greek operational activity at the land border with Turkey. …

Figure 2 FRAN Report Q4 2012[***]

More detections were reported by Italy than any other Member State, and more were reported from the Italian Pelagic Islands than any other border section. Somalis continued to arrive in Lampedusa in increasing numbers, but this development was overshadowed by a massive increase in the number of Eritreans arriving in Lampedusa and Malta from October onwards.

[***]

In Q4 2012, most (nine) Member States reported increased detections of illegal border-crossing compared to the same period of the previous year, albeit from relatively low bases (Fig. 3). For example, detections in Malta rose sevenfold, from Q4 2011 to Q4 2012, mostly due to increased detections of Eritreans, who also played a major role in doubling the number of detections in Italy compared to a year previously….

[***]

During the final quarter of 2012, the nationality with the fastest growing number of detections of illegal border-crossing in terms of absolute increase was Eritreans: up almost threefold from 352 in Q4 2011 to nearly 1 300 in the current reporting period. Detections of migrants from Mali increased more sharply but from a lower base: from 37 to 379 over the same period. In both cases, these migrants were almost exclusively detected in Lampedusa having left on small fishing boats from Libya.

[***]

4.2 Routes

[D]uring the final quarter of 2012 detections of illegal border-crossing on the three main irregular migration routes converged to very similar levels with only 2 000 detections separating the three main routes.”

Fran Q4 Eastern Med.4.2.1 Eastern Mediterranean Route

[***]

In recent quarters the most commonly detected have been migrants from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Algeria and, more recently, Syria. In Q4 2012 the most commonly detected migrants in this region were from Afghanistan, Syria and Palestine but all in much reduced numbers than previously reported….

[***]

Italian Ionian Coast – For some time there has been a steady flow of Afghans and, to a lesser extent, Pakistanis arriving at the southern Italian blue borders of Calabria and Apulia, with some very large increases during Q3 2012. Apparently, many of them had been previously resident in Greece for several years, while some Afghan nationals claimed to have worked in Pakistan for six years, but due to the bad social and working conditions decided to return to Afghanistan and then to move to Europe to improve their economic situation.

In contrast, in Q4 2012 other nationalities, such as Syrian, Bangladeshi and Egyptian, responded to the seasonal weather changes and were correspondingly detected in much lower numbers than during the previous quarter.

The JO Aeneas 2012 in Apulia and Calabria started on 2 July and was extended until 2 January 2013. Overall, the percentage of incidents Screen Shot 2013-06-19 at 4.03.07 PMwhich involved departures from Greece was as high as 78% (Fig. 7). According to operational reports, the decrease in the number of arrivals in Apulia and Calabria from August 2012 was due the implementation of the Greek police operation Aspida stemming the flow of migrants. However, adding to the flow were Greek police operations against irregular migration in the centre of Athens and in other cities of Greece which continued to push irregular migrants out of Greece….

[***]

4.2.2 Central Mediterranean Route

According to FRAN data, in Q4 2012 there were 3,476 reported detections of illegal border-crossing on the main Central Mediterranean route (Italian Pelagic Islands, Sicily and Malta), almost exactly the same number as in the previous quarter and significantly higher than any other quarter both before and after the Arab Spring. However, this figure concealed seasonal decreases for some commonly nationalities and significant increases for others.

[***]

In accordance with the ‘Processo Verbale’ of 5 April 2011 (an agreement between Italy and Tunisia on cooperation in the field of migration policy) in November and December 2012, Tunisian nationals were returned to Tunis or were recovered by the Tunisian authorities in international waters. In 2012, Italian authorities delivered two patrol boats to the Tunisian authorities in order to improve the fight against the trafficking of human beings and irregular immigration. Consistent with declining numbers of Tunisians, detections of Egyptian migrants arriving in the Central Mediterranean region also fell, in this case from 287 in Q3 to just 135 in Q4 2012.

In contrast to decreased detections of migrants from North Africa, there were significant increases compared to the previous quarter, in detections of migrants from several sub-Saharan countries such as Eritrea (+200%), the Gambia (+90%) and Mali (+350%), as well as a steady and significant flow of migrants from Somalia, now ranked second in the region behind Eritreans. Most of these migrants departed from Libya, where, due to a paucity of ground vehicles and boats, low technical and professional levels of the new police forces, the situation of the migration management by the Libyan authorities remains critical, both on land and at sea (Fig. 9).

[****]

There was also a very large increase in the number of Syrians detected in the Central Mediterranean region from just five in Q3 to nearly 100 in Q4 2012, which is consistent with widespread increased detections of this nationality across border sections. However, there is currently no evidence to suggest that the Central Mediterranean area is likely to become the main point of entry for Syrian migrants.

[***]

There are still reports about extreme violence against black African nationals in Libya. Most of the migrants reported to have been beaten by Libyan police after being arrested and also by members of the facilitation networks. The big Somali community in Abu Slim/Tripoli is the main gathering point for migrants originating from the Horn of Africa. From there, a second destination close to the beach is the final stopover before embarking the boats for the crossing to Italy. Some migrants reported that they got afraid when seeing the relatively small rubber dinghies and refused to enter them. Armed guards beat them and forced them to board the boats, not letting anyone leave.

4.2.3 Western Mediterranean Route

In Q4 2012 there were nearly 1,900 detections of illegal border-crossing in the Western Mediterranean region, which consists of several areas of the southern Spanish coast as well as the land borders of Ceuta and Melilla, where almost exactly half of all detections were reported. Going into the final quarter of the year there were vastly increased detections of migrants from Chad, Cameroon, Mali and Guinea arriving in the region of Cadiz.

As has been the case for several years, the most commonly detected migrants were from Algeria, followed by migrants of unknown nationality (presumed to be sub-Saharan Africans), both of which were mostly reported from the land borders with Morocco.

[****]

The JO Indalo 2012 started in this region on 16 May and ran until 31 October 2012 covering five zones of the south-eastern Spanish sea border and extending into the western Mediterranean. Consistent with previous years, the operational area of the JO Indalo continued to be affected by migratory flows mainly originating from North African and sub-Saharan countries, which follow a similar seasonal pattern. Overall there was a 4% decrease in the number of irregular migrants detected compared to the JO Indalo 2011.

There were almost equal numbers of irregular migrants claiming to be from North African countries and the sub-Saharan region. According to the operational data, sub-Saharan migrants claimed to originate mostly from Chad, Guinea Conakry and Mali, whilst most of the migrants from North African countries claimed to be from Algeria and Morocco.

4.2.4 Western African Route

In the final quarter of 2012, there were just 91 detections of illegal border-crossing in this region, which is more than double the number reported during the previous quarter and goes against expected seasonal declines at this time of year. This increase was almost entirely due to migrants from the Gambia, who arrived in the Canary Islands in December significantly adding to the consistent but relatively low flow of Moroccans arriving in this area.

Despite the arrivals of Gambians, the total number of 91 detections was still lower than during the same period in 2011 (i.e. 112, almost exclusively Moroccans). The high level of cooperation between the Spanish, Senegalese and Mauritanian authorities performing joint patrols at sea and on the coastline of these countries has been a significant deterrent factor to prevent irregular migration flows from Senegal and Mauritania towards the Canary Islands.”

Moroccan migrants were mainly young, lower-class, Arabic-speaking males who were undocumented to avoid repatriation. They arrived mainly in migrant boats targeting the Canary Islands.

[***]”

—————

Click here or here for FRAN Q4 2012 Report.

For previous 2012 FRAN Report summaries, click here (Q2) and here (Q3).

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Frontex FRAN Report for Q3 2012

In January of this year, the Frontex Risk Analysis Unit (RAU) released its 2012 Third Quarter Report (July – September 2012). (Frontex has since released Reports for Q4 2012 and Q1 2013; we will post summaries of these more recent Reports shortly.)  As in past quarters, the 70-page report provided in-depth information about irregular migration patterns at the EU external borders. The report is based on data provided by 30 Member State border-control authorities, and presents results of statistical analysis of quarterly variations in eight irregular migration indicators and one asylum  indicator.

FRAN Q3 2012 CoverDuring 2012 Q3 several FRAN indicators varied dramatically compared with previous reports, including a significant reduction in detections of illegal border-crossing compared with previous third quarters. In fact, there were fewer detections of illegal border-crossing than in any third quarter since data collection began in early 2008. Additionally, this quarter reported the largest number of applications for asylum since data collection began in early 2008, with Syrians ranking first among nationalities.

Here are some highlights from the Report focusing on the sea borders:

  • “There were 22,093 detections of illegal border-crossing at the EU level, which is considerably lower than expected based on previous reporting periods.”
  • “The majority of detections were at the EU external land (66%), rather than sea border, but this was the lowest proportion for some time due to an increase in detections at the Greek sea border with Turkey [***]. Nevertheless, the Greek land border with Turkey was still by far the undisputed hotspot for detections of illegal border-crossing.”
  • “Overall, in Q3 2012 there were fewer detections of illegal border-crossing than in any previous third quarter, following the launch of two Greek Operations: Aspida (Shield) …  and Xenios Zeus…. Perhaps somewhat predictably, there were increased detections of illegal border-crossing at both the Turkish sea border with Greece and land border with Bulgaria, indicative of weak displacement effects from the operational area.”
  • “[T]here were more than 3 500 reported detections of illegal border-crossing on the main Central Mediterranean route (Italian Pelagic Islands, Sicily and Malta), a significant decrease compared to the same reporting period in 2011 during the peak associated with the Arab Spring, but still the highest reported so far in 2012, and higher than the pre-Arab Spring peak of 2010.”
  • “[D]etections in Italy still constituted more than a fifth of all detections at the EU level. Detections in Apulia and Sicily were actually higher than in the Arab Spring period, and doubled in Lampedusa compared to the previous quarter.”
  • “In July 2012 the facilitation networks targeted Sicily instead of Pantelleria and Lampedusa, as it is harder for the migrants to reach the Italian mainland from the small islands. Migrants claim that the facilitators may start to focus on the southern coast of Sicily, as they expect lower surveillance there.”
  • “[T]here were some significant increases of various nationalities such as Tunisians and Egyptians departing from their own countries, and Somalis and Eritreans departing from Libya.”
  • “Several reports included details of how sub-Saharan migrants were often deceived, over-charged or even left to drown by their facilitators during the embarkation process.”
  • “For some time there has been a steady flow of Afghans and, to a lesser extent, Pakistanis arriving in the southern Italian blue borders of Calabria and Apulia with some very large increases observed during Q3 2012. In fact, according to the FRAN data there were more detections in this region than ever before.”
  • “JO EPN Aeneas 2012 started on 2 July. The operational plan defines two operational areas, Apulia and Calabria, covering the seashore along the Ionian Sea and part of the Adriatic Sea.”
  • “JO EPN Indalo 2012 started in [the Western Mediterranean] on 16 May covering five zones of the south-eastern Spanish sea border and extending into the Western Mediterranean.”
  • “Increased border surveillance along the Mauritanian coast generated by the deployment of joint Mauritanian-Spanish police teams and also joint maritime and aerial patrols in Mauritanian national waters has reduced departures towards the Canary Islands but also may have resulted in a displacement effect to the Western Mediterranean route from the Moroccan coast.”
  • “The good cooperation among the Spanish, Senegalese and Mauritanian authorities and the joint patrols in the operational sea areas and on the coastline of Senegal and Mauritania have resulted in a displacement of the departure areas of migrant boats towards the Canary Islands, with the reactivation of the Western African route (from north of Mauritania to the Western Sahara territory) used by the criminal networks operating in Mauritania.”

Here are excerpts from the Report focusing on the sea borders:

“Overall, in Q3 2012 there were fewer detections of illegal border-crossing than in any previous third quarter, following the launch of two Greek Operations: Aspida (Shield), which involved the deployment of ~1 800 Greek police officers to the Greek land border with Turkey, and Xenios Zeus, which focused on the inland apprehension of illegally staying persons. The much-increased surveillance and patrolling activities at the Greek-Turkish land border, combined with the lengthening of the detention period to up to 6 months, resulted in a drastic drop in the number of detections of irregular migrants from ~2 000 during the first week of August to below ten per week in each of the last few weeks of October. Perhaps somewhat predictably, there were increased detections of illegal border-crossing at both the Turkish sea border with Greece and land border with Bulgaria, indicative of weak displacement effects from the operational area….

Despite the clear impact of the Greek operational activities on the number of detections of illegal border-crossing, there is little evidence to suggest that the absolute flow of irregular migrants arriving in the region has decreased in any way. In fact, document fraud on flights from Istanbul increased once the Greek operations commenced. Hence, there remains a very significant risk of a sudden influx of migrants immediately subsequent to the end of the operations.”

[***]

4.1 Detections of Illegal border-crossing

“Overall, in Q3 2012 there were 22 093 detections of illegal border-crossing at the EU level, which is considerably lower than expected based on detections during previous quarters. In fact, there were fewer detections of illegal border-crossing than in any third quarter since data collection began in early 2008. The particularly low number of detections was due to vastly increased operational activity at the Greek land border with Turkey since 30 July 2012, and also to the overlapping effects of the end of the Arab Spring in its initial countries (Egypt, Libya, Tunisia) and far fewer detections of circular Albanian migrants illegally crossing the border into Greece.

The majority of detections were at the EU external land (66%), rather than sea border, but this was the lowest proportion for some time due to an increase in detections at the Greek sea border with Turkey – probably the result of a weak displacement effect from the land border. Nevertheless, the Greek land border with Turkey was still by far the undisputed hotspot for detections of illegal border-crossing.”

[***]

2012 Q3 Illegal Border Crossings“Figure 4 shows the evolution of the FRAN Indicator 1A – detections of illegal border- crossing, and the proportion of detections between the land and sea borders of the EU per quarter since the beginning of 2008. The third quarter of each year is usually influenced by weather conditions favourable for both approaching and illegally crossing the external border of the EU. Moreover, good conditions for illegal border-crossing also make it easier to detect such attempts. The combination of these two effects means that the third quarter of each year is usually the one with very high, and often the highest number of detections.”

[***]

4.2 Routes

“… As illustrated in Figure 8, in the third quarter of 2012 the most detections of illegal border-crossings were reported on the Eastern and Central Mediterranean routes, which is consistent with the overall trend for most third quarters in the past. However, on the Eastern Mediterranean route the summer peak of detections, which has been remarkably consistent over recent years, was much lower than expected following increased operational activity in the area resulting in far fewer detections during the final month of the quarter.

In the Central Mediterranean, increased detections of several nationalities illegally crossing the blue border to Lampedusa and Malta, as well as increased landings in Apulia and Calabria from Greece and Turkey, combined to produce the highest number of detections both before and after the prominent peak reported during the Arab Spring in 2011.

In Q3 2012, there were 11 072 detections of illegal border-crossing on the Eastern Mediterranean route, a 75% reduction compared to the same period in 2011, and most other third quarters (Fig. 8). Nevertheless this route was still the undisputed hotspot for illegal entries to the EU during the current reporting period, mostly because of vastly increased detections of Syrian nationals.”

Screen Shot 2013-06-17 at 1.45.32 PM[***]

4.2.1 Eastern Mediterranean Route

“…Italian Ionian coast: For some time there has been a steady flow of Afghans and, to a lesser extent, Pakistanis arriving in the southern Italian blue borders of Calabria and Apulia with some very large increases observed during
Q3 2012. In fact, according to the FRAN data there were more detections in this region than ever before. The most commonly detected migrants were from Afghanistan, which is a significant but steady trend. In contrast detections of migrants from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Syria have increased very sharply since the beginning of 2012.

JO EPN Aeneas 2012 started on 2 July. The operational plan defines two operational areas, Apulia and Calabria, covering the seashore along the Ionian Sea and part of the Adriatic Sea. As mentioned in previous FRAN Quarterlies,
the detections at the Greek-Turkish land border are directly correlated with detections in the Ionian Sea. In 2011, it was estimated that more than 15% of migrants reported at the Greek-Turkish land border were afterwards detected in Apulia and Calabria.”

[***]

4.2.2 Central Mediterranean Route

“… According to FRAN data, in Q3 2012 there were just 3 427 reported detections of illegal border-crossing on the main Central Mediterranean route (Italian Pelagic Islands, Sicily and Malta), a significant decrease compared to the same reporting period in 2011. However, this figure was still the highest reported so far in 2012, and was higher than the peak in 2010. Additionally, there were some significant increases in various nationalities.

On the Central Mediterranean route, detections of migrants from Tunisia continued to in crease from 82 during the last quarter of 2011 to over 1 000 in Q3 2012. Tunisians were not the only North African nationality to feature in the top five most detected nationalities in the Central Mediterranean region, as Egyptians were also detected in significant and increasing numbers (287). The fact that fewer Egyptians than Tunisians were detected in the Central Mediterranean should be interpreted in light of Egypt being eight times more populous than Tunisia, which shows that irregular migration pressure from Egypt is proportionally much lower than that from Tunisia.

Also significant in the Central Mediterranean during the third quarter of 2012 were detections of Somalis (854) and, following recent increases, also Eritreans (411). Somalis have been detected in similarly high numbers during previous reporting periods (for example over 1 000 in Q2 2012) but there were more Eritreans detected in Q3 2012 than ever before.

Some Syrian nationals were also detected using the direct sea route from Turkey to Italy but these tended to arrive in Calabria…..”

[***]

4.2.3 Western Mediterranean Route

“In 2011, irregular migration in the Western Mediterranean region increased steadily from just 890 detections in Q1 2011 to 3 568 detections in the third quarter of the year. A year later in Q3 2012, detections dropped to just over 2 000 detections, which was, nevertheless, the highest level so far in 2012.

As has been the case for several years, most of the detections involved Algerians (859) followed by migrants of unknown nationality (524, presumed to be sub-Saharan Africans). Algerians were mostly detected in Almeria
and at the land border with Morocco, the migrants of unknown nationality were mostly reported from the land borders.

JO EPN Indalo 2012 started in this region on 16 May covering five zones of the south-eastern
Spanish sea border and extending into the Western Mediterranean.

In Q3 2012, there were far fewer Moroccan nationals detected (79) compared to Q3 2011. Most were detected just east of the Gibraltar Strait, between Tangiers and Ceuta. According to the migrants’ statements, the area between Ksar Sghir and Sidi Kankouche is the most popular departing area among Moroccans who want to cross the Gibraltar strait (10.15 NM distance). The boats used for the sea crossing were toy boats bought by the migrants in a supermarket for EUR ~100….

Increased border surveillance along the Mauritanian coast generated by the deployment of joint Mauritanian-Spanish police teams and also joint maritime and aerial patrols in Mauritanian national waters has reduced departures towards the Canary Islands but also may have resulted in a displacement effect to the Western Mediterranean route from the Moroccan coast.”

[***]

4.2.4 Western African Route

“In the third quarter of 2012, there were just 40 detections of illegal border-crossing in this region, almost exclusively of Moroccan nationals but with an influx of Senegalese nationals….

The good cooperation among the Spanish, Senegalese and Mauritanian authorities and the joint patrols in the operational sea areas and on the coastline of Senegal and Mauritania have resulted in a displacement of the
departure areas of migrant boats towards the Canary Islands, with the reactivation of the Western African route (from north of Mauritania to the Western Sahara territory) used by the criminal networks operating in Mauritania.”

[***]

——————-

Click here or here here for Frontex FRAN Report for Q3 2012.

Click here for previous post summarizing Frontex FRAN Report for Q2 2012.

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ECRE Interview with Tineke Strik Regarding PACE Investigation into Migrants Deaths in Mediterranean

ECRE last week published an interview with Ms Tineke Strike regarding the PACE Migration Committee’s ongoing investigation into the almost 2000 migrant deaths that have occurred in the central Mediterranean this year.  The Committee is focusing in particular on the incident that occurred in late March 2011 when unknown ship(s) and aircraft observed and then failed to rescue a disabled migrant boat.  Approximately 60 persons subsequently died.

Excerpts from the ECRE interview:

“[***]  What are the main findings of your report on the death at the Mediterranean so far?

We have spoken with survivors and with the priest who received the request for assistance from the boat in distress, Italian border guards, and the Italian refugee agency, as well as the Italian Refugee Council (CIR), a Member of ECRE. We also talked to different people in Brussels, including NATO, the ambassador of the Council of Europe, Amnesty and several MEPs. Today, during the PACE hearing on November 30 in Paris, we had a discussion with a number of experts in international law, Frontex, UNHCR and ICRC. All in all a lot of information has been gathered.

We have already sent requests for information to find out via satellite maps and logs if there were boats near the distressed boat Once we know under which flags these boats were sailing, we will be able to track which governments might have been responsible and ask them whether they knew that the boat asking for help was in danger or not and how they acted upon that information.

We are actually still waiting for information for this information. It is unfortunate that it takes time to get this information but we are trying to get hold of it through different channels. We have approached High Representative Ashton and asked for her consent to provide us with information from the European Satellite Centre. We have already used this kind of information at the Council of Europe, for example to detect the illegal detention centres that the CIA was using. We therefore hope that Ashton once again will cooperate.

We also asked NATO to provide us with information and have asked all the countries who took part in the NATO action in Libya and who had ships in that region during that period to give us data on where their boats were and when. NATO has promised to request the Member States to provide us with this information, also if these boats were not under the command of NATO. If this does not succeed, we still have our own national parliamentarians that could push their governments in their own country if it is necessary to gather the information.

If countries were involved they might not want to admit that, which makes my position difficult. I am not a judge and I don’t have enforcement powers so I’m partly dependent on the cooperation of various parties.  But I think all parties can benefit from transparency on what has happened, in order to avoid such tragedies in the future.

[***]

How do you think the EU has responded to the turmoil and war in North Africa and, in particular, the following displacement of people in the region and the arrival of some of them to Europe?

In my report following the protests in North Africa, we see that by far the largest part of the people who have fled Libya went to Tunisia and Egypt. There was a lot of fuss in the EU about the 25,000 who eventually fled to Italy. Tunisia took half million, Egypt took a half a million which shows how big the contrast with the EU was, especially considering that Member States were reluctant to resettle refugees from camps in Tunisia. This while Tunisia and Egypt were in a very vulnerable position in the post-revolutionary period. If we really want to help and strengthen stability in the region, we must show these states that they are not alone. These countries generously opened their borders, they understood the situation of the people there and to a great extent we stood aside and just watched.

Then we failed to help out Italy and Malta, especially when countries like France and Denmark wanted to close their borders. This shows exactly how much we are still not politically ready for a common asylum system. We provide beautiful public statements but when it comes down to it, Member States do not want to lose their sovereignty or be troubled by developments elsewhere. I do not think you can have both: either you have a joint system and you show solidarity, or you close all the borders and reinvent the wheel.

Common policies go hand in hand with solidarity and in fact we should look beyond the European borders.  What you see now is that border controls at the external borders of the EU continue to shift to North Africa and sometimes even further. One cannot claim that our responsibilities only begin when people have reached our territory. I was therefore very disappointed when the European Commission replied to a question by MEP Hélène Flautre on this incident saying that the boat was in Libyan waters and therefore they had no power to get involved. If certain acts like push backs at high sea or bilateral agreements with unsafe third countries such as Libya, lead to death or inhumane treatment, EU member states or other countries of the Council of Europe are accountable for a violation of the European Convention on Human Rights. In that sense I have high expectations of the decision of the ECHR in the case of Hirsi and others v. Italy.

[***]

What do you think the impact of your work and the investigation will be?

I hope the report will raise the awareness of the international obligations and also the awareness of the importance of avoiding such tragedies. It is important that violating the obligation to rescue does not remain unmentioned or lead to impunity. If we succeed in proving which actors were wrong. Member States will be more careful and there will be more pressure to cooperate and share the responsibilities, and to establish practical and binding solutions. Being a parliamentary assembly of national parliamentarians, I also hope that the discussion will also take place in Member States. I find it really outrageous that such a tragedy can occur so close to our borders and that we have been so silent about it.

[***]”

Click here for full interview.

Click here for my last post on this topic.

 

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Frontex Quarterly Reports for 2011 Q1 and Q2

The Frontex Risk Analysis Unit (RAU) released its 2nd Quarter Report (April-June) for 2011 on 4 October.  The 1st Quarter Report (Jan-March 2011) was released on 21 July.  As always, while the information is a few months old, the reports contain a significant amount of information, graphs, and statistical tables regarding detections of illegal border crossings, irregular migration routes, detections of facilitators, detections of illegal stays, refusals of entry, asylum claims, and more.

Here are extensive excerpts from the Q2 Report:

“Executive summary

In Q2 2011, all Frontex irregular-migration indicators increased compared to the previous quarter. The most important indicator, detections of illegal border-crossing, increased to a level not seen since Q3 2008 and correspondingly asylum applications are now at nearly the highest level since data collection began. What’s more, migration pressure at the border from migrants attempting to enter and stay in the EU increased even more than EU-level figures suggest, as they are offset against extensive reductions in Albanian circular migration.

In 2011 there were major and extensive developments in irregular-migration pressure at the external border of the EU, resulting from two simultaneous but independent hotspots of illegal border-crossings: the first was seasonally increased activity at the Greek land border with Turkey, where a wide variety of migrants continued to be detected at very high levels. The second, and the undeniable hotspot for illegal border-crossing into the EU in Q2 2011, was in the Central Mediterranean, where vast numbers of sub-Saharan migrants landed in Italy and Malta mostly having been forcibly expelled from Libya. [***]

4. Main points Q2 2011

  • All irregular migration indicators increased relative to the previous quarter
  • Compared to a year ago, there were significant EU-level increases in several irregular migration indicators, such as detections of illegal border-crossing, clandestine entries, and refusals of entry. There were also increased asylum applications
  • Despite detections of Afghan migrants falling by a third compared to last year, they were still the most common nationality detected illegally crossing the EU external border. Most were previously resident as refugees in Iran
  • In contrast, detections of all the other highly-ranked nationalities (Tunisians, Nigerians, Pakistanis, Ghanaians) increased massively relative to the same period last year
  • In total there were over 40 000 detections of illegal border-crossings, a 50% increase compared to Q2 2010. These were the result of two simultaneous but independent routes of irregular migration: the Eastern Mediterranean and the Central Mediterranean routes:

1. In the Eastern Mediterranean:

– There were over 11 000 detections of illegal border-crossing, almost exclusively at the Greek land border with Turkey, which is comparable with the same period in 2010

– This flow currently attracts migrants from north Africa, sub-Saharan Africa and Asia

– Groups of Dominicans were detected travelling to Turkey to enter the EU via the Greek land border

– Secondary movements are assumed from detections of (i) illegal border-crossings in the Western Balkans, (ii) false documents on flights to major EU airports from Turkey as well as Greece, and (iii) landings in southern Italy from Greece, Turkey and Albania

2. In the Central Mediterranean:

– Following a bilateral return-agreement between Italy and Tunisia, the massive influx of Tunisians to Lampedusa reported in the previous quarter decreased, but remained significant

– A very wide range of sub-Saharan Africans were detected on this route, some having been forcibly departed from Libya

– Italy reported more detections of illegal border-crossing in Sicily than ever before, a three-fold increase compared to the previous quarter; the increased flow was composed of migrants from Côte d’Ivoire as well as Tunisia and a range of other nationalities

– There were also increased detections of Egyptian migrants and facilitators landing in Sicily and Southern Italy from Egypt

– Italy and Malta reported huge increases in the number of asylum applications submitted by sub-Saharan African migrants. In Italy increases were particularly marked for Nigerians and Ghanaians

  • Following their new visa-free status, fewer Albanians were detected illegally crossing the EU border, and illegally staying within the EU (both mainly in Greece). Instead they were increasingly refused entry to Greece and they were also increasingly detected at the UK border, either as clandestine entry or using false documents
  • There was an increased flow of Georgian migrants towards Belarus (air and land), with increased illegal entries and asylum applications in Poland and Lithuania
  • In Q2, Libya was the most significant source of irregular migration to the EU. However, more recently the ability of the Gaddafi regime to forcibly expel its migrant population to the EU has become compromised; the situation remains dynamic and uncertain[.]

4.1 Detections of illegal border-crossing

At the EU level, in Q2 2011 there were more detections of illegal border-crossing since Q3 2008. The total of 41 245 detections during this reporting period is a 25% increase compared the previous quarter and a 53% increase compared to the same period last year (Fig. 2). Without question there were major and extensive developments in illegal migration pressure at the external border of the EU, resulting from two simultaneous but independent hotspots of illegal border-crossings. The first was increased activity at the Greek land border with Turkey, where a range of Asian, north African and sub-Saharan African migrants were increasingly detected at very high levels. The second, and the undisputed hotspot for illegal border-crossing into the EU in Q2 2011, was at the Italian islands in the Central Mediterranean, where vast numbers of Tunisians, Nigerians and other sub-Saharan migrants landed in small sea vessels, the majority of which in Q2 had been forcibly departed from Libya.

Figure 2 shows the evolution of the FRAN indicator 1A – detections of illegal border-crossing, and the proportion of detections between the land and sea borders of the EU per quarter since the beginning of 2008. In Q2 2011 there were more detections of illegal border-crossing since the peak of Q3 2008 nearly three years ago. Compared to a year ago, detections at the EU land border decreased by 42% to 13 742 in Q2 2011, almost exclusively due to fewer detections of Albanian nationals following their new visa-free status; elsewhere at the land border (including Greece) trends were roughly stable. In contrast, at the sea border detections increased nine-fold to some 27 500 detections (Fig. 2), the vast majority of which (95%) were in the central Mediterranean, forming the major development in irregular migration to the EU in 2011.

[***]

At the EU level, detections of illegal border-crossing increased by 53% compared to a year ago (Fig. 3). However, this level masks a lot of variation among Member States. First, and most importantly to the current situation, was a 4 200% increase in detections of almost exclusively African migrants in Italy. Related to this central Mediterranean flow, was a concurrent and massive increase in detections reported from Malta (from 0 to 710), and also increases further west into Spain (+61%). As a result, all these countries have seen increases in other indicators such as asylum applications of the most common nationalities (see relevant sections). [***]

Routes

As illustrated in Figure 4, for just the second time since records began in early 2008, in Q2 2011 detections of illegal border-crossings on the Central Mediterranean route, which comprises the blue borders of Italy and Malta, exceeded those reported from both the (i) Eastern Mediterranean route of the land and sea borders of Greece, Bulgaria and Cyprus, and (ii) circular migration from Albania to Greece.

Without question, in Q2 2011 the single most important irregular-immigration route in terms of detections of illegal border-crossing was the Central Mediterranean route, where detections increased in the beginning of 2011 to previously unprecedented levels (Fig. 4). In the first quarter of 2011, and uniquely compared to previous surges of illegal immigration, this flow was restricted to a single nationality – Tunisian, most of whom were responding to civil unrest in their home country by leaving towards the Italian Island of Lampedusa. In response to this almost unmanageable influx of irregular migration at a single and isolated location, a bilateral return agreement was signed between Italy and Tunisia, which allowed for the accelerated repatriation of newly arrived individuals. Hence, during the current reporting period, the flow of Tunisian migrants fell from over 20 200 in the previous quarter to 4 300 in Q2 2011.

However, civil uprising commonly referred to as the Arab Spring, and its effects on migration in the area, was not limited to Tunisia. For example according to multiple sources, in next-door Libya, migrants from sub-Saharan countries were in Q2 2011 being coerced to move towards the EU by the Gaddafi regime in response to the NATO Operation Unified Protector which commenced on March 27 under United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973. Thus, in Q2 2011, besides some continued departures from Tunisia, the flow in the central Mediterranean was composed of a single flow of large numbers migrants from sub-Saharan countries departing Libya in small vessels. [***]

4.1.1 Eastern Mediterranean route

Detections of illegal border-crossings on this route increased seasonally and in line with previous years, from 6 504 in Q1 2011 to 11 137 in Q2 2011, almost exclusively due to a massive increase in detections at the Greek land border with Turkey, where detections increased from 6 057 to 10 582. [***]

4.1.2 Central Mediterranean route

In Q2 2011 there were 26 167 detections of illegal border-crossings on the Central Mediterranean route, a 10% increase even compared to the ‘peak’ reported during the previous quarter, and evidently a massive increase compared to the negligible detections throughout all of 2010. The vast majority of detections on this route were reported from Italy (25 500) where detections increased by 13% even compared to the ‘influx’ of migrants reported during Q1 2011. In Italy, Central African, Tunisian, Nigerian and Ghanaian were the mostly commonly detected nationalities, 90% of which were detected in the Pelagic Islands (14 300), most notably Lampedusa (Fig. 7). However, in Q2 2011 there were also more detections of illegal border-crossing reported from Sicily (2 260) than ever before; this figure is nearly three times bigger than that reported in the previous quarter and more than twenty times higher than during the same period last year (100). Compared to the previous quarter, in Sicily there were more detections of migrants from a very wide range of countries such as Egypt, Côte d’Ivoire and Tunisia. There were also over 710 detections reported from Malta, which is a sustained peak from the previous quarter (820) and extremely high compared to the negligible detections throughout 2010. In Malta there were much fewer detections of Somalis and Eritreans but there were increased detections of Nigerians and migrants from Côte d’Ivoire. However, migrants from Tunisia, Algeria and Egypt often claim to originate from sub-Saharan Africa in an attempt to appear as refugees, a fact which may render such comparisons of nationalities somewhat misleading.

In the previous FRAN Quarterly (Q1 2011) it was reported a surge of irregular immigration (20 000 detections) on the Central Mediterranean route that was almost entirely restricted to a single nationality: Tunisian (Fig. 8). As a result of this influx, on 20 February the JO EPN-Hermes Extension 2011 commenced in the central Mediterranean, and a bilateral agreement was reached between Italy and Tunisia on 5 April 2011, which resulted in the strengthening of police surveillance along the Tunisian coast and regular repatriations of Tunisian nationals from Italy. For example, according to data collected under JO Hermes 2011, some 1 696 Tunisians were repatriated between 5 April and 23 August 2011. The repatriation agreement is probably an effective deterrent, combining as it does, returns and surveillance, however some migrants have reported their boats being spotted by military patrols that did not take any action. According to the FRAN data, in Q2 2011 some 4 286 Tunisian migrants were still detected illegally crossing the border into Italy. Although a massive reduction, this still represents a very large and significant flow of irregular migrants into the EU.

In comparison to the reduction in flow from Tunisia, in Q2 2011 there was a large increase in migrants who had departed from Libya (Fig. 9). The migrants departing from Libya were mostly nationals from countries in the Horn of Africa, the sub-Saharan and Central African regions and, to a lesser extent, Asia. According to intelligence collected during JO EPN-Hermes Extension 2011, most of these migrants had already been in Libya for over a year, originally heading to Tripoli via the traditional routes for sub-Saharan and Central African migrants. In Q2 2011, migrants tended to reach Italy on large fishing vessels that had departed directly from Tripoli or the nearby ports of Medina and Janzour. Most of these deported African nationals did not want to leave the country as their standard of living in Libya was high compared to their home countries. Several even stated that they would choose to return to Libya after the war. In Q2 2011 reports suggest that some migrants were instructed to reach embarkation areas on their own but had been caught by the military or police and then detained in camps or disused barracks until they were transported to embarkation areas and onto vessels bound for Italy. In each case the migrants were searched by the military before boarding and all their belongings were confiscated. According to reports, nationals of the sub-Saharan and Central African regions as well as from Horn of African countries have been recruited by the Libyan army/police to manage their compatriot migrants at gathering places or camps. In some cases the destination of vessels from Libya was Sicily, where the flow was characterised by waves of landings. For example there were around 11 landings on 13 May and 7 between 11 and 29 June, with the majority of boats arriving from Libya and Egypt. [***]

4.1.3 Western Mediterranean route

In Q1 2011 there were 1 569 detections of illegal border-crossings on this route to Southern Spain, which is nearly double compared to the previous quarter (890), and more than a 50% increase compared to a year ago (973). Some of this increase is due to better weather conditions at this time of year, but irregular migration pressure on this route is clearly higher than it was at the same time last year. [***]

In the longer-term, irregular immigration to southern Spain has been consistently decreasing since the beginning of 2006. Commonly cited reasons are Frontex Joint Operations in the area, effective bilateral agreements and more recently rising unemployment in Spain, particularly in sectors typified by migrants.* Nationalities traditionally associated with this route were Algerian, Moroccan and Ghanaian. [***]

4.1.4 Western African route

The cooperation and bilateral agreements between Spain and the rest of the Western African countries (Mauritania, Senegal and Mali) are developing steadily. They are one of the main reasons for the decrease in arrivals on this route over the last year, as are the presence of patrolling assets near the African coast. In Q4 2010 Frontex reported a slight increase in the number of detections of illegal border-crossing at the Canary Islands, from a maximum of 50 during each of the previous 4 quarters, to 113 in Q4 2010. This increased level of detections persisted into the first quarter of this year (154), exclusively due to Moroccan nationals (152) displaced after the dismantling of migrant camps near the dispute Western Saharan region. However, during the current reporting period detections on this route decreased massively to a negligible 24 detections. [***]”

Click here for 2011 Q2 Report.

Click here for Frontex Statement regarding 2011 Q2 Report.

Click here for 2011 Q1 Report.

Click here for Frontex Statement regarding 2011 Q1 Report.

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Italian Ship Carrying 150-200 Detained Tunisian Migrants Reaches Sardinia

One of the three passenger ships being used by Italian authorities for the past four days to detain hundreds of Tunisian migrants reached Sardinia this morning (26 September) around 7.30 AM local time.  The ship, the Moby Fantasy, left Palermo around 12 midnight on the night of 24-25 September and took over 30 hours to sail to Cagliari, Sardinia.  The Moby Fantasy appears to have delayed its arrival in Cagliari by sailing for several hours up and down the south east coast of Sardinia. (See map below.)

It seems that the Moby Fantasy is carrying about 150 to 200 of the 700 Tunisian migrants who have been held on the ships for four days; another 600 or so migrants have been held on two other ships, Moby Vincent and Audacia, which have remained in Palermo, though some of the detained migrants may have been removed from the ships to migrant reception centres in Rome, Bari, and Pozzallo.

Click here and here for articles.  (IT)

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Eurostat: Asylum Statistics for Q1 2011

Eurostat has issued a statistical report regarding the number and makeup of asylum applicants in the 27 EU member states and Norway, Switzerland, and Lichtenstein for the First Quarter 2011.  The report documents the increased number of applications filed in Italy by Tunisians, but note that the report only addresses data through 31 March 2011.

Highlights include:

  • Nearly 66 000 persons sought asylum in one of the EU Member States during the first quarter of 2011, an increase of 4 000 compared with the same period of the previous year.
  • France and Germany remained the top destination countries of asylum applicants with 14 300 and 12 000 applicants respectively.  France and Germany received 40% of the total applications filed.
  • Germany (+ 2 700) and Italy (+1 300) recorded the highest increases in numbers of applicants in absolute terms compared to the first quarter of 2010, while Sweden (- 1 900) and the Netherlands (-700) recorded the largest falls.
  • In the first quarter of 2011, the main citizenships of people seeking asylum in the EU-27 were Afghans (5 800), followed by Russians (4 100) and Iraqis (3 800).
  • Tunisians (2 500) are now ranked eighth among the main countries of citizenship of asylum seekers.  90% of the Tunisian applications were made in Italy.
  • 55 600 first instance decisions on asylum applications were issued in the EU-27 during the first quarter of 2011. One out of four of such decisions was positive; in total 13 500 persons received some type of protection status, including refugee status (6 800 decisions), subsidiary protection (4 600 decisions) or authorisation to stay for humanitarian reasons (2 100 decisions).

Click here for Eurostat report.

\

Asylum applicants, absolute and relative change between Q1/2010 and Q1/2011

Asylum applicants, EU-27, January 2010 – March 2011

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In Solidarity with Norway

Photo Credit: Finlands Ambassade Oslo (Facebook page)

People gathered outside Cathedral Square, Oslo, Saturday night. Photo: Monica Strømdahl / Aftenposten

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NATO Transfers Rescued Migrants to Tunisia

According to information provided by the Spanish Ministry of Defence, the Spanish frigate Almirante Juan de Borbón sailed to Tunisia earlier this morning (16 July) and, while remaining outside Tunisian waters near Zarzis, transferred the remaining 106 rescued migrants to the Carthage, a Tunisian naval vessel.  114 migrants were initially rescued by the Spanish ship.  5 of the migrants were airlifted to Malta for medical reasons on 13 July.  On 11 July, shortly after the initial rescue of the migrant boat, 3 migrants were evacuated and turned over to Tunisian authorities.  The original 114 consisted of 88 men, 20 women (5 of whom are pregnant), and 6 children. The Defence Ministry said that the decision to transfer the migrants to Tunisian authorities was a NATO decision.

While the decision to disembark the migrants in Tunisia is better than sending them to eastern Libya (something I was fearful would occur), Tunisia is problematic for several reasons.  The migrant boat was reportedly carrying Tunisians.  To the extent that any of them may have had claims for international protection, the claims have been effectively eliminated.   It is not known whether any efforts were made to assess whether any of the Tunisians had claims for international protection.   And to the extent that any of the non-Tunisians have claims for international protection, Tunisia is clearly less able to handle such claims and less able to provide care for asylum seekers relative to Malta, Italy, or Spain (or any of the NATO countries participating in Operation Unified Protector).

[17 July update – NATO’s OUP Press Office informed me earlier today that any questions regarding who made the decision to transfer the migrants to Tunisia and whether any of the migrants were screened for claims for international protection had to directed to the Spanish Ministry of Defence.]

Click here (EN), here (ES), and here (ES) for articles.

Click here for Spanish Ministry of Defence press statement and additional photos. (ES)

Photo Credit: Ministerio de Defensa de España (mde.es)

Photo Credit: Ministerio de Defensa de España (mde.es)

Photo Credit: Ministerio de Defensa de España (mde.es)

Photo Credit: Ministerio de Defensa de España (mde.es)

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INTERIGHTS Consultancy – MENA Scoping Study

Of possible interest to some readers:  INTERIGHTS is seeking a consultant to conduct a scoping study and produce a comprehensive report with recommendations on whether and, if so, how best, INTERIGHTS could develop a programme of work in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).

More information, see MENA Consultant Advert June 2011- IR website versionMENA Consultant – BackgroundMENA TOR, and  Equal Opportunities and Diversity Monitoring Form.

Closing date: 4th July 2011. If you would like an informal discussion about this consultancy please contact Iain Byrne on +44 (0)207 278 3230.

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Draft Commission Communication on Migration

[UPDATE 4 May 2011 – the FINAL Communication on Migration was released today.  Click here for Communication and click here for my updated post.]

The European Commission will consider and likely adopt a Communication on migration on Wednesday, 4 May.  Below are excerpts from a draft document which appears to have been under consideration as of 15 April.  The draft Communication  [DRAFT 15-04-2011] includes proposals for burden sharing under certain circumstances and “a mechanism [for the introduction of] a coordinated and temporary reintroduction of [internal EU border] controls. 

Excerpts from the draft:

“Table of Contents

1……….. Introduction

2……….. Crossing the borders

2.1…….. Coping with the crisis: the short-term measures

2.2…….. Border controls

2.3…….. Schengen governance

2.4…….. Preventing irregular immigration

3……….. Moving and living in an area without internal borders

3.1…….. Organised mobility

3.2…….. A consistent policy on mobility including visas

3.3…….. A properly managed legal migration

3.4…….. Building an inclusive society by integrating immigrants

4……….. Providing international protection to persons in need

5……….. Migration in External relations beyond the crisis

5.1…….. The Global approach to migration

5.2…….. Beyond the crisis: the EU and the Southern Mediterranean in partnership

1.  Introduction

[***]

Some Member States, such as Italy, Malta, Greece and Cyprus are more directly exposed to massive arrivals of irregular migrants and, to a limited extent, of persons in need of international protection. This is not a national problem alone, but needs also to be addressed at the EU level and requires true solidarity amongst Member States.

The EU must ensure quick assistance to all persons in need – as it has done notably at the Tunisian-Libyan border – and provide shelter to those in need of international protection. Whilst the EU must maintain and consolidate its tradition of granting asylum and protection it should also foresee the appropriate tools in order to prevent large number of economic migrants crossing the borders irregularly. To reach these objectives, managing effectively the EU borders is a condition of credibility inside and outside the Union.

The continuously evolving situation in our Southern Neighbourhood requires rapid responses. Building upon the European Council Conclusions of 11 and 25 March, and the joint Communication of the Commission and the High Representative of 8 March, the Commission will present on 24 May a package of proposals to address the EU approach in the area of migration, mobility and security with the Southern Mediterranean countries.

However, the absolute need to address this challenging and evolving situation should not lead to a short-term approach limited to border control without taking account of long-term issues. Dialogue and cooperation with countries of origin and of transit of these migrants is essential. Such collaboration needs to be built on security and good governance for the establishment of mutually beneficial policies in the field of legal migration. It also implies enhanced economic cooperation in order to develop the conditions for growth and employment in the countries of origin, to address the causes of irregular migration and to promote a pact for development and well managed legal migration in its various forms.

[***]

2.1   Coping with the crisis: the short-term measures

[***]

Those Member States that are most exposed to the growing flows of refugees and irregular migrants have been helped with the financial consequences of the displacement. To this end, around 25 MEUR which were identified under the External Borders Fund and European Refugee Fund.

While the current crisis confirms the need for increased solidarity at the European level and better sharing of responsibility, it must be recognised that the EU is not fully equipped to help those Member States most exposed to massive migratory movements.

The financial resources available under the General programme “Solidarity and Management of Migration Flows” are inadequate to respond to all requests for assistance. First, these funds can not be mobilised easily; they are designed to intervene in a stable situation and not to tackle emergencies and crisis. Secondly, the magnitude of the problems largely exceeds the existing facilities.

In the context of the next Multi-Annual Financial Framework, the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission, will have to draw lessons from the current crisis. For the EU to react quickly and effectively in the case of unforeseen events or emergencies, Home Affairs funding should be adapted so that it can be mobilised much more rapidly and flexibly, including in third countries.

In principle, other forms of solidarity exist to respond to the dramatic events taking place in the region. Building on the experience gained so far with the current pilot project on relocation from Malta, the Commission will support an extension of this project in view of the current influx of migrants seeking international protection there, to be implemented in close cooperation with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the International Organisation for Migration. However, the currently available instruments fall short of fulfilling all the needs and providing a comprehensive response. They can only be resorted to in an ad hoc manner, and are entirely dependent on the will of Member States to voluntarily offer assistance – in whatever form – at a given point in time. This in turn exposes the EU to criticism and risks undermining the trust of the citizens in the EU.

The Commission will closely monitor the continuously evolving situation and may decide, if the relevant conditions are met, to trigger the Temporary Protection Directive to provide immediate and temporary protection to displaced persons from third countries that are unable to return to their country of origin.

The Commission will make further proposals during 2011 on delivering solidarity in a holistic manner and how concretely such assistance can be delivered. A number of different approaches are currently being studied, with a view to developing alternatives that will allow urgent needs to be responded to in a more rapid and structured fashion. This initiative will build on the appropriate legal basis of the Lisbon Treaty, such as Articles 80 and 78 paragraph 3, and will draw lessons from the situation in Greece, particularly at the land border between Greece and Turkey, and the crisis in the Southern Mediterranean; it will include possible ad hoc measures to be resorted to in case of particular temporary pressure on one or several Member States, as well as more structural means of ensuring solidarity, both financial and in the form practical cooperation and technical assistance (e.g. via FRONTEX, EASO, joint operations).

Finally, as an important gesture of solidarity towards the North African countries (especially Tunisia) which are currently hosting large number of persons in need of international protection who cannot be returned to their countries of origin, and in order to maintain ‘protection space’ in these countries, it is important for EU Member States to accept to resettle some of these persons.

2.3  Schengen governance

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A mechanism must also be put in place to allow the Union to handle situations where either a Member State is not fulfilling its obligations to control its section of the external border, or where a particular portion of the external border comes under unexpected and heavy pressure due to external events. A coordinated response by the Union in these critical situations will increase trust among Member States. It will also reduce the need for unilateral initiatives by Member States to temporarily reintroduce internal border controls or to intensify police checks in internal border regions. However, even when such initiatives are taken within the limits set by the acquis, they inevitably slow down the crossing of internal borders for everyone. To be used as a last resort in truly critical situations, a mechanism may therefore need to be introduced allowing for a coordinated and temporary reintroduction of controls at one or several sections of the internal border. Such a mechanism would apply for a limited and pre-determined period of time, until other (emergency) measures have been taken to stabilise the situation at the relevant external border section either at European level, in a spirit of solidarity, and/or at national level, to better comply with the common rules. The Commission is exploring the feasibility of introducing such a mechanism, and may present a proposal to this effect shortly.

[***]”

Click on this link  “DRAFT 15-04-2011” for draft Communication.

Click here, here, and here for articles.

[UPDATE – 4 May 2011 – Click here for FINAL Communication and click here for my updated post.]

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Filed under Cyprus, European Union, Frontex, General, Greece, Italy, Libya, Malta, Mediterranean, News, Tunisia

Italian Official Warns of New Migrant Threat from Libya

In obvious tension with my previous post (Van Rompuy Warns Migrant Danger Should Not be Exaggerated), Giorgio Piccirillo, the head of COPASIR, the Italian Parliamentary Committee for Security of the Republic (Comitato parlamentare per la sicurezza della Repubblica), said last Thursday that Libya may attempt to send towards Europe approximately 15,000 migrants recently released from detention centres in Libya.  The Times of Malta reported Saturday that “[a]ccording to Gen. Piccirillo the Libyan regime’s intention is to send these migrants to Italy by boat from the port city of Zuwarah, which is about 120 kilometres to the west of Tripoli. Zuwarah is one of the ports from where migrant traffickers operated in the past…”  No further details were reported.

Click here (EN) and here (IT) for articles.

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France and Italy Agree to Joint Naval Patrols Along Tunisian Coast to Block Migrant Departures

French and Italian Interior Ministers Claude Guéant and Roberto Maroni today have announced an agreement for “joint air and naval patrols” off the Tunisian coast to block departures from Tunisia. Guéant is quoted by Le Figaro as saying that the new measures would be carried out with assistance from Frontex, but the report is unclear whether he is calling for Frontex participation or announcing that Frontex will participate.

While there are no specifics details being reported about this agreement, it seems to constitute a new push-back practice where there will be little or no opportunity for asylum seekers or other persons of concern to be identified and afforded the protection to which they are entitled.  It is simply not possible to intercept vessels at sea and adequately identify who is on board an overcrowded migrant boat and assess whether international protection is needed by anyone on board.

Click here (FR), here (IT) and here (FR) for articles.

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Save the Children: Conditions for 250 Unaccompanied Migrant Children on Lampedusa Unacceptable

Save the Children released a press statement yesterday describing the conditions for more than 250 unaccompanied migrant children on Lampedusa and calling for their immediate transfer from the island.  Excerpts:

“’The structure that has been allocated [to the children on Lampedusa] is totally inadequate and the conditions on an hourly basis are becoming more critical from the point of view of hygiene and [other conditions]’ said Raffaella Milano, Italy-Programs Manager, Save the Children Europe.  Since the beginning of the increased arrivals of migrants from Tunisia – since February 10 – more than 530 children, the vast majority of them unaccompanied, have arrived in Lampedusa.  Of these, 283 have been placed in communities to accommodate the children in Sicily.  ‘More than 250 unaccompanied minors are still remaining in Lampedusa and many have been living many days in conditions that do not guarantee minimum standards of reception.’ …  Save the Children calls for the transfer of the children and setting up temporary structures … if necessary, where the children may stay until being placed within the community. … This delay is not justifiable.”

For more information:
Press Office Save the Children Italy,
Tel. 06.48070023-71-001;
press@savethechildren.it
http://www.savethechildren.it

Click here for link to statement.

Also click here for 22 March UNHCR urgent call for action by the Italian authorities to alleviate overcrowding on Lampedusa.

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Filed under European Union, General, Italy, Mediterranean, News, Statements, Tunisia, UNHCR